Name Awards Professional Commentary on Company Names, Product Brands and Business Names

Avigilon is a very awkward rotten name

avigilonLogoAs far as I can tell, Avigilon is a good company with a good hidef security product line that many retailers would love to have. But trying to be clever has made this name awkward. Why not simply Vigilon?

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Leatherhead Originals is a great name for a small outfit

Sometimes it seems to me we over think all these clever company names, and then along comes a very small business that shows us how a basic, but unique name, can do the job so well.

LeatherheadOriginalsIf you are looking for a jaw dropping great affect from your friends and family at the next Medieval Faire, fancy dress or Halloween, then seriously consider a leather hat or mask (or in my case helmet) from Leatherhead Originals. Beautiful soft, lined and often recycled leather in many colors are the materials of choice for this master craftsman. Yes, quality costs money, but ignore the price, you are going to keep it forever.
Plus Josh’s tagline is simple and direct: Unique Leather Hats & Masks.

And if the name and tagline haven’t hooked you yet, see the illustration logo on his business card here. Wow. If he can make that, what can this master craftsman make for you? See a lot more of his work on Etsy now that you know his name.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Curiouser and curiouser…Whiskey Design Awards

2013 Whiskey Design Awards winner for Best Design Agency

2013 Whiskey Design Awards winner for Best Design Agency

The winners of the 2013 World Whiskies Design Awards have been announced, with Glenrothes Single Cask 1970 #10573 taking the Award for Best Design.

For those readers getting curiouser and curiouser about the title of this post, we refer you to the winner of the Best Design Agency… Stranger & Stranger.

Thus completing the Brighter Family trifecta: an award (Brand Name Awards) for packaging (Brighter Products), won by an outfit with a great name (Name Awards.)

Red Hat names sure get your attention

RedHatLogoWhen the Unix Open Source movement started with Linx way back when, I immediately noticed all the companies springing up to commercialize it. That in itself was an interesting idea because how do you make money off “free” software was a big question in those days. Even then, before I transitioned into being a naming professional full time I noticed the names. Without doing some research I can’t tell what the others were, or even if they have survived. But I can tell you I remembered the name Red Hat from the outset, and it continues to jump out at me every time I see the name.

Interestingly enough, I have not seen (or noticed) the logo as much but I do have a vague recollection of once upon a time wondering why some guy was ambling around a trade show in a big trench coat and a red hat. This name is so simple, so evocative and so unusual, it really stands well by itself.

RedHatSocietyLogoCompare that with the Red Hat Society and their use of the name and logo. I had never heard of this name and had to research it when I did first encounter it. Of course, I am not a lady, and even if I was I am not sure I would have the personality to dress up to the hilt in red and purple to go to lunch with other ladies. But what do I know. You will recognize them at their own table somewhere someday, if you haven’t already, as they now they claim to be the world’s largest ladies social group. And yes, they wear big hats just like in their logo – and typically dress in red and purple too.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Isn’t Nome an interesting name?

NomegoldpanAs I write this column the Iditarod is in full running – in fact the first mushers just passed the halfway point. I love their tagline “The Last Great Race” as well. When it is just human, dogs and sleds in Alaska in Winter, then it really is a great race, especially as most teams will take over 11 days to complete their run, and few will have all 16 dogs left by then.

The race goes from Anchorage to Nome, which brings us to the name Nome. First of all, easy to pronounce once you see it, and nothing to do with gnome if you don’t. And almost every article I see on the town devotes a sentence or two to where the name came from. Most people now agree it was an accident. Someone wrote ?Name on a form in the space for town name. Someone else misinterpreted this as Nome and the rest is history.

Except that for a while during their gold rush it was called Anvil City, but there was some confusion with Anvil Lake not far away. So the post office rejected the name and they switched back to Nome to make sure they got their mail.

But don’t try to look it up on Google Maps and see how to drive there. First time I have seen Google’s phenomenal map service choke – there are no roads to Nome. You have to fly in, boat in or visit by sled dog or snow machine of some sort. Do look it up and see the Iditarod trail as all teams have GPS transmissions this year so we don’t have to wait three days for the news.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Do you know why Parktown Dental is a great and strategic name?

ParktownDentalI am preparing a new comprehensive article on why you should not name your business after yourself when I was reminded of this Dental Service I used to walk by on my way to the gym. Being a namiac even simple names like Parktown catch my eye – in particular because that was a suburb name where I grew up (a couple of continents away).

Thinking I might get a clue from the dentists’ names, I checked the small print of this basic facility in Fremont, California. The partners were called Espejo and Nguyen, if I recall properly, back in those days. I never did find out why they called it Parktown unless they got that name from some version of Monopoly or something, but that isn’t the point. What if they did not want to cater exclusively to Hispanic or Vietnamese clients? Especially as they were located in a neighborhood that is predominantly Indian, Chinese and Caucasian?

More than that, suppose I wanted to recommend them. Instead of saying you should see my Dr Nguyen (or Dr Tim as I might have said to help him get a new client in the door), I can easily say go see Parktown Dentistry. Just sounds upper/middle class and is so easy for everyone to grasp and remember. Why they picked Parktown is irrelevant.. it is simply a great change from the Dentist’s own names. And I have remembered it for over 10 years, even though my name brain database overflows daily.

And it has one more great benefit, as was proven in this case. Dr Nguyen is no longer with the group. But I am sure they still want his Vietnamese patients – and many more of all sorts of international backgrounds seen in Silicon Valley now they have expanded to Mountain View too. And certainly not only Hispanic clients, even though the principles are now Espejo, Mohica and Espejo. One is even a lady dentist, which some people (mainly idiots) don’t like. All this is hidden behind the great branding and marketing of Parktown. My hat’s off to you.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Xooming to new heights

XoomLogoThis past Friday Xoom executed on the ultimate branding event – going public on the stock exchange. As a regular user of the Xoom service, which beats the competitors by a mile, I feel remiss for not commenting on their name earlier.

Much as I like the name, I am surprised how many people hesitate over the pronunciation. Even though they know how to say xylophone and Xerox, for some reason they don’t immediately get that this name is simply Zoom with an X.

After many, many years in the naming business I continue to be pleasantly surprised about how the change of one letter in a name can make a big difference. Zoom is pedantic and common, but Xoom is unique and interesting. It doesn’t say “transfer money” like Moneygram implies, but then again it is a lot more appropriate a name than Western Union – as long as you haven’t grown up with Western Union as the brand for sending money.

And for all you software houses out there, don’t think of Xoom as just a way to send money to relatives. Think of it as a way to send money to off-shore contractors and vendors, especially those not wed to Paypal.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Can the Frying Dragon fly? Or only as a restaurant name?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI couldn’t believe that Frying Dragon was a proper name for anything, but then found some restaurants (typically Chinese) called The Frying Dragon. Also I know we shouldn’t make fun of foreigners trying to do their best with this complicated language called English, but do you really think they intended to call these padlocks Frying Dragon brand and not Flying Dragon?

Please folks, use a professional language service or naming agency, or at least check your names in your target markets to avoid this kind of embarrassment. This is especially important when you want to move up from being an embedded or OEM product and go retail with your own brand.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Both Events win Name Awards – Spartan Race & Tough Mudder

In the new world of he man sports obstacle racing is growing like gangbusters. When I was a young business professional we went and did the Lake Run or Zoo Run or went Reservoir Windsurfing. Today’s youngsters (and others) don’t have time for boring things like Ironman marathons, so the sport of Obstacle Racing is exploding.  Seems a lot like army training without the uniform and the dumb kommandant yelling at you. Plus this way you can shower off and go back to work on Monday morning.

Event naming, naming of sportin goods and clothingAnyway, two companies both claim to be the leaders in this sport: Spartan Race with its west coast origins, and Tough Mudder with its east coast (via some exBrits) origins. Both are well promoted and branded. Both are properly trademarked and protected – probably helped along by them both realizing early on the merchandising potential of their events, brands and goods. But which one has the best name, from a purely naming point of view?

Sports naming, equipment naming, event naming, sports product brandingWhat style of name would you have selected: Tough Mudder which is descriptive with the right sort of tough mother edginess, with instant recognition (in fact the name has been used for other events, like in trucking) or Spartan Race which is unique and tough sounding, but doesn’t explain much – and in fact taken literally Spartan could even imply threadbare and not Sparticus-like warriors?

For us the answer is very clear. Both these names are deserving of a naming award – in large part because they are unique names and not copies, nor are they boring very descriptive “ultimate obstacle events” names. Both stand out from the crowd. Both are unique enough to be legally owned and will develop good mind share  in short order.

Of course, like any event attracting such a following so quickly, the sponsors were sure to show up…  so we can’t blame Reebok for putting their name upfront. Maybe Tough Mudder will find a sponsor humble enough to play second fiddle. For example Tough Mudder by Firestone.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –

Discover IT makes me want to scratch and itch.

DiscoverITWhen your name is relatively long, like in Discover, you surely do want a short second name for a product descriptor. But why something as lifeless as “it” unless you mean Information Technology – and we know that is not your game?

Imagine how much fun they could have with the word itch instead? Would solve everyone’s itch to go shop till they drop. Or at least something else with some character or image or motion or action or life or..

Great color, graphics and nice use of depth make for a good choice of imagery here. In fact, we may even get used to it (pun intended) especially if we ever see or know someone who actually has a Discover card.

© 2013 – All rights reserved –